Aston Villa have begun their Premier League season with a whimper, losing four of their five matches so far and when you consider the business Steven Gerrard has done over the summer, this form surely poses more questions than answers.
With the pressure firmly mounting on the 42-year-old following this rough start, a visit from champions Manchester City this evening is a tie that he would have wanted to avoid, but Pep Guardiola’s men have shown flashes of weakness in conceding three goals to Newcastle United and two against to Crystal Palace.
Villa will need their strongest side available in order to have a chance of pulling off a result and with this in mind, Gerrard should be starting Coutinho.
The Brazilian may have had an underwhelming season so far, registering zero goal contributions in five matches, but his star quality is still there in abundance.
He was a revelation when arriving at Villa on loan for the second half of last season, scoring five goals and registering three assists while ranking second in the squad with a WhoScored rating of 6.96, proving he could still shine in the Premier League.
Another factor to consider is his excellent record against Man City in the past. The 30-year-old has scored six goals against the side over the years while also registering one assist and this will surely be a factor that Gerrard will consider, especially as he was playing next to Coutinho when he scored a few of these goals.
Journalist Vayam Lahoti described Coutinho as “unreal” following his impact after arriving in England last season and his performances certainly justified that praise.
He hasn’t reached those heights thus far during this campaign, mainly sharing duties with Emiliano Buendia either on the left wing or in an attacking midfield role. If he can get himself back to the form he showed between January and March last season and display it this evening, he could well give Pep nightmares.